The housing market in Grand Rapids has been feeling the wrath of the angry real estate gods the last few years – well, more like 7 years, truth be told. The trembling of the real estate market of the whole nation is seen in the real estate market here. But what does this do to one’s sense of being at home here in GR?
Home is a word that is loaded with a great deal of emotional freight. It is the place one belongs. It is the place where one feels secure. It is the place where one considers oneself the resident, and others are the guests. The last years in the market have done some very significant things to the real estate values and these have, in turn, done some very significant things to the emotional needs for having a home. According to the Grand Rapids Association of Realtors, www.grar.com the number of homes coming onto the market in some level of “distress” is over 50% of the listings of homes for sale.
That number speaks volumes about the financial distress the homeowners are facing. But it fails to enlighten as to all the distress that comes to the family when they are forced to give up their place. They lose a great deal of stability in their lives as they transition from one place to another, but also as they come to the sad realization that they could not pay their mortgage debt any more. It is here that people’s faith is shaken as they wonder why God is allowing such a thing to happen to them.
The social displacement that results from this physical displacement is of great concern to those who are people of faith. A realtor recently told of a situation where a friend of his was being forced out of her home. Her situation was one of such despair that she could not see her way clear into any sort of a future. His reaction to this was that he felt that he was powerless to do for her what God called him to do, “When you see someone in need, and do nothing, what good is your faith?” Questions such as this linger over many of the real estate transactions in Grand Rapids and all over this land in these difficult times for the real estate market. Even if the housing market “comes back” it is felt that it will be some time before the healing will happen in these thousands of families’ lives that have seen such a loss of their personal space.